The Oregon Ducks are headed back to the Final Four. It’s been over 9,000 years (give or take) since the Eugene-based program could say that, but this squad is ready to represent the Pacific Northwest in Arizona and it’s largely because of Mr. March himself, Tyler Dorsey.
In four NCAA Tournament games, the Oregon sophomore has scored 24, 27, 20 and 27 points against Iona, Rhode Island, Michigan and Kansas, respectively. He’s shot the lights out hitting a combined 17-of-26 from the three-point line, and he’s knocked down big shots in even bigger moments.
But does any of that make him the Final Four’s most exciting player to watch? According to Bleacher Report’s Brian Pedersen, the answer is a resounding yes.
Pedersen, who ranked the weekend’s top 10 players based on “talent, statistical production and importance to their team” has Dorsey ranked No. 1.
“What he’s done: Tyler Dorsey has had two strong seasons at Oregon. But when the calendar flips to March he becomes a completely different player—one that this season has proven unstoppable. The 6’4” sophomore guard is averaging 24.5 points per game in the NCAA Tournament, shooting 66.7 percent from the field, while making 17-of-26 three-pointers.”
Not bad, right? Pedersen continues:
“Why he’s here: While junior Dillon Brooks was the Ducks’ regular-season hero, hitting a pair of game-winning shots to beat UCLA and California, it’s Dorsey who has taken over as the go-to player during the postseason. This has been the case the last two years, as his March scoring average (17.9) in 17 career games is more than three points better than in any other month.”
Dorsey is clearly making a habit of shining when the lights are the brightest. So what can we look forward to in the Final Four? Once again, here’s Pedersen:
“What to expect: Look for North Carolina to swarm Dorsey on the perimeter and make him drive rather than pull up. But since he’s shooting 68 percent inside the three-point line in the NCAA tourney, he’s fine with looking elsewhere. The Ducks won’t be out of it as long as Dorsey’s shot keeps falling.”
Dorsey’s shooting efficiency is going to play a key role against North Carolina. If the guard is hot, the Tar Heels will be in trouble. If he loses his touch (or more realistically, UNC doubles down on its plan to make his life uncomfortable), the Ducks will need other players to step up like never before.
Speaking of other players, Dorsey isn’t alone on Pedersen’s list. Not only do the Ducks have three representatives in the Final Four’s top 10 players to watch, all three make up 50 percent of the top six.
According to Pedersen, Jordan Bell (who has been an absolute problem for opponents—especially those named Kansas) lands in the No. 5 spot. Dillon Brooks, the 6’7” forward, is right behind him at No. 6.
Oregon will need an offensive attack by committee if it’s going to beat the Tar Heels this weekend, and getting another dynamic defensive performance out of Bell will only help. But if one thing is clear, it’s that Dorsey has earned the right to be named the Final Four’s No. 1 player to watch.
After all: You don’t earn the moniker Mr. March without gaining notoriety in the NCAA Tournament.